Health Care: Senate Bill Must Not Pass

Posted on 23 December 2009

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By Randy Bayne
California Notes

Yes, I said it. Health  insurance reform, as it is presently constructed in the Senate bill (HR 3590), must not pass. Following the lead of Keith Oberman, I repeat what Churchill said after Munich, “I will begin by saying the most unpopular and most unwelcome thing: that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat, without a war.”

In giving up on a public option and a Medicare buy-in down to 55 years of age, Senate Democrats have handed insurance company executives and the Republican Party everything they could want. The “Death Panel” that tea baggers railed against is a reality and gains strength as million of Americans will be forced to buy-in to programs they neither want nor can afford.

"[HR 3590] merely decrees that our underprivileged, our sick, our elderly, our middle class, can be fed into it, as human sacrifices to the great maw of corporate voraciousness, at a profit per victim of 10 cents on the dollar instead of the current 20. Even before the support columns of reform were knocked down, one by one, with the kind of passive defense that would embarrass a touch-football player – single-payer, the public option, the Medicare Buy-In – before they vanished, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the part of this bill that would require you to buy insurance unless you could prove you could not afford it, would cost a family of four with a household income of 54-thousand dollars a year, 17 percent of that income. Nine thousand dollars a year. Just for the insurance!"

Let those numbers sink in. A family of four, income of $54,000 a year, will be forced to pay $9,000 per year — nearly one-fifth of their income, for health insurance. Carefully note. They will not be buying health care, just insurance — the hope that their condition is covered. This is not hope we can believe in.

The Democrat’s attempts at health care reform are an unmitigated disaster from which they cannot seem to walk away. The have bungled the health care issue from the beginning, first by thinking they could reach a bi-partisan compromise with the right-wingnuts on anything. Later, they ignored their base, the ones who brought them to the dance — progressive voters — and continued to push to get something, anything that might resemble some form of health  insurance reform.

A losing strategy from the very beginning has finally collapsed, and there are many who still cannot see that they have lost. They also seem blind to the very real possibility of losing in November.

The best we can hope for now is reconciliation on the House bill. However, a simple majority may not result in enough votes, the health care reform waters having been so thoroughly polluted. But it may be our best, nay, our only shot at salvaging some resemblance of good health  care reform.

It is said ad infinitum, “Don’t let the good become the enemy of the perfect.” Well, HR 3590, is not good, and this tired, abused phrase no longer applies, if ever it did. I prefer, “First do no harm,” and there is plenty of harm in the current version. If there were redeeming qualities in the bill, those who know me know I would be going along with it. “It may not be perfect, but it heads us in the right direction,” I would say.

HR 3590 went sideways when Harry Reid thought he could placate the bipolar Joe Lieberman, and is now hopelessly off course. Alas, the Democrats have abandoned the field, given their enemies the ground, and still try to claim victory. You have lost, time to move on.

There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the aisle for this debacle. But to continue on this ill advised present course toward an individual mandate with no public option is political suicide. Progressives must not, and for the most part will not, stand for it. Moderates must, and hopefully will, reject it. Options are available. Reconciliation, which only requires a simple majority vote, comes to mind. There is no good reason to push a bad bill solely for the sake of the coming holiday.

Take a couple weeks, relax with family and friends, think about the harm you will be causing American families if HR 3590 is allowed to proceed, then come back in January, reinstate a strong public option or Medicare buy-in. An individual mandate, though no more appealing, is much more palatable with these.

First, do no harm, and have a happy holiday.


Randy Bayne is Chair of the Amador County Democratic Party. This article originally appeared in The Bayne of Blogs and is published with the permission of the author.

Apologists for this scam of a legislative effort toss out the "We will insure millions of the uninsured" They are allowing "The good to enable the greed" to paraphrase the stumpy little man whose behind the scenes wrangling brought us this economy destroying bill. We've lost much of our competitive edge in the world-galvanizing into place a broken system that wastes over 30 cents of every dollar as insurers do while ignoring the incredibly efficient system in place-medicare- is simply criminal. Thailand's minister of health studied the worlds many systems of health care delivery and settled on a model of our medicare. Why? Because they want their country to succeed while democrats here passed a money laundering bill to wash our tax dollars and earnings thru insurers and directly back to them thru lobbyist bribery. We, those who busted our backs getting these dolts all three houses, have been pimped out in reverse and we don't even get to choose the corner they'll soon force us to work in paying their expensive johns the insurance industry.